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SummaryA great but mildly unfair Mario golf game
The GoodNES Open features a wide variety of gameplay options, being able to play match games against increasing difficult computer opponents, enter tournaments (hence the title), and play basic stroke games. Through all events, you can earn money by playing well, which gives you a sense of accomplishment.
NES Open has a lot of things for the player to do. Not all courses are immediately available, nor are match opponents. Competing at each level allows you to unlock the more difficult options. It can take quite a while to unlock everything, so the game has good longevity.
There is also a two player mode, which is very fun to play. The mechanics are similar to later Mario Golf games--choose a club, a direction, and try to time your swing and accuracy on a power meter.
There are some light Mario elements as well. The main golfers are Mario and Luigi, Peach appears on some menus, and Donkey Kong acts as the banker. The music and graphics are also lively, and would fit right in within the Mario universe.
The BadWhile the games mechanics are easy to pick up, they are unforgiving. The power meter moves very fast, and changes speed in the middle of your swing. The accuracy sweet spot in your swing is tiny, meaning shots need to be nearly flawless. This is extraordinarily difficult to do, and even after hours of playing, it can still be very difficult just to get your shot to go as planned.
The game also gives no reference for distances. You can see how many yards until the pin, and you can see the maximum yardage of a club, but you can't accurately gauge how far a specific spot is from your current position. For example, if the pin is 500 yards away and your club shoots 250 yards where exactly is that on the fairway? You can guess, but this requires a lot of trial, error, and practice.
Putting suffers the same problem. Putting strokes can be one of three levels of power, but there is no indication of how far a put will go. For example, if you hit the ball at half-power with medium force, how far is the ball going to travel? There's no indication or frame of reference. Even with practice, putting is still a lot of guess work.
Both of these flaws can somewhat be overcome with practice, although not completely. Even the best players can still find themselves aiming right for a water hazard or whizzing by a hole.
The courses are varied, though they all look the same. There is no variation in graphics, so courses start to look the same as you play.
The money that you get from tournaments is nice, and it is fun to be able to put a number on your gameplay experience, however there is nothing to actually do with the money. In the end, it doesn't serve a purpose except as a score.
The Bottom LineDespite flaws, NES Open is very fun to play. The variety of gameplay options provide a wonderful, long-lasting single player experience. The game is still relatively simple enough for a new player to pick up and start enjoying.
While the mechanics are obtuse in some areas, and not as refined as the later Mario Golf games made by Camelot, NES Open is still loads of fun and rewards practice.